Do You Believe it Now? The Jaguars are not going to London

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 26: Fulham owner, Shahid Khan looks on prior to the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final between Aston Villa and Fulham at Wembley Stadium on May 26, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 26: Fulham owner, Shahid Khan looks on prior to the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final between Aston Villa and Fulham at Wembley Stadium on May 26, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) /

“Opposing team fans need to stop. The national media should have a gag order on the subject. The Jacksonville Jaguars are not moving to London and that should be the end of it…PERIOD.

In a surprising move, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan announced yesterday that he is withdrawing his bid to purchase Wembley Stadium. In a statement released to the public, Mr. Khan essentially felt that he did not have the full support of the English Football Association (or “FA”).

“At this moment, following last week’s FA Council hearing, it appears there is no definitive mandate to sell Wembley and my current proposal, subsequently, would earn the backing of only a slim majority of the FA Council, well short of the conclusive margin that the FA Chairman has required,” Khan said in a statement issued Oct. 17.

“Until a time when it is evident there is an unmistakable directive from the FA to explore and close a sale, I am respectfully withdrawing my offer to purchase Wembley Stadium.

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The move to purchase Wembley Stadium was first announced back in April of this year. At that time, Mr. Khan released a statement in which he explained the positive impacts that Wembley’s purchase would have on the Jacksonville franchise.

The Jaguars have played regular season home games at Wembley Stadium in each of the past five NFL seasons and will continue to do so at least through the 2020 season. The games the Jaguars play at Wembley are essential to the financial stability of the Jaguars in Jacksonville, which is one of the smallest markets in the NFL. If my ownership interests were to include Wembley Stadium, it would protect the Jaguars’ position in London at a time when other NFL teams are understandably becoming more interested in this great city. And the stronger the Jaguars are in London, the more stable and promising the Jaguars’ future will be in Jacksonville.

The announcement initially worried many Jaguars fans because it once again brought about rumors of the team’s move across the pond. In fact, the noise was so loud that Mr. Kahn had to address the rumors directly.

 No, I cannot understand why it was a bombshell… I have business deals and investments all over the world. So I don’t understand. Every time there is a transaction [it] has visibility. Especially you folks [media] start connecting dots that shouldn’t be connected.

Look at some of the stuff behind us. The boards, the pools… next door [in Daily’s Place] the sounds you here. What did we do to make NFL football viable in Jacksonville?

…I think actions speak louder than words. I think the six years of actions here should be speaking volumes more than some blog.

Despite these remarks, there were still rumblings about Mr. Khan’s true intentions with the Jaguars. Just last week, news broke of claims made against Mr. Khan by Craig Kline, former assistant director of Khan’s Fulham Football Club. The Independent, a British newspaper, reported that Kline said of Khan that “moving the Jags from Florida to the UK remains his priority.” These claims were immediately dismissed, however. “This is nothing more than the same ongoing nonsense and bogus claims made by a former employee who left the club in 2017. Nothing here merits a further response,” said Jim Woodcock, spokesman for Khan.

Now that the Wembley purchase isn’t going through, everyone needs to lay to bed the talk of the Jaguars going to London. If Mr. Khan truly wanted to move the team, why would he back out of the Wembley deal just because he thinks he won’t get the support needed from the FA?

The simple truth is this: while having an NFL Franchise over in London is certainly appealing from a financial perspective, it doesn’t mean the Jaguars have to move there in order to survive. If that’s not the case, Khan doesn’t give up so easily on the purchase.

The national media and opposing fans should need to learn about what Mr. Khan has already done and plans to do for the both the City of Jacksonville and the Jaguars INSTEAD of merely assuming that the Jaguars are London’s future team because they play one game a year there.

As Mr. Khan said, “actions speak louder than words.” Some of Mr. Kahn’s past actions include: (1) over 63 million dollars in stadium renovations which brought fans the largest video boards of its kind and a new north end zone pool and cabana viewing area; (2) 26.6 million dollars in club area renovations; and (3) 40 million dollars to build a new 5,500 person amphitheater and 94,000 square foot indoor practice facility  all connected to the stadium.

If that wasn’t enough, Mr. Khan’s future plans are even greater. At the Jaguars State of Franchise in April, the team announced a 2.5 billion dollar project that would develop one of the stadium’s west parking lots, Lot J, as the first phase of what eventually will be a vastly expanded Shipyards District comprising 4.25 million square feet of a mixed-use sports and entertainment complex.

According to Jaguars President Mark Lamping today, this development will be absolutely critical to the stability of the Jaguars franchise.

 “Now we have to find a substitute for the revenue that [owning] Wembley would have produced, like [development of ] Lot J and the Shipyards. All of those things combined will create a sustainable franchise in Jacksonville. We’re not solely dependent on one. It’s only through the aggregate of all of those we’ll be able to achieve our goal.”

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So there are the facts. And that facts show one thing: Mr. Khan has more than shown his commitment to the JACKSONVILLE Jaguars through his investments. So, let’s stop listening to those folks who think they know more than the people who actually live here.